Packed with a vintage speed shop full of performance parts, the Hemi not only looked era-correct, it promised to shake the rafters when matched up to the right car. It wasn’t until five years later that the search for a body would finally lead Tom to the Promised Land. Squeezing the Internet for every last ounce of information he could, he followed up on a lead that led him to an original steel body in Seattle. As the story goes, the seller’s friend recalled an old Willys being used as a farm carryall while living in Mobridge, South Dakota, while in his childhood. He revisited the old farm decades later to find it resting peacefully amongst a number of castoff vehicles that had served their time and retired. A deal was made and the car was trailered off to Seattle where it sat for some time, was slightly picked over, and finally offered up for sale. Without wasting any time, Tom made the deal and the car was shipped off to Maryland. Once received and reviewed, Tom was awestruck that even though the car had seen very rough times it was virtually rust free.

It was immediately torn down and sent off to Fast Times Rod’s in Dunkirk, New York, where Pete Clark and his team laid out a new spine constructed from 2x6-inch rectangular framerails with custom tubular crossmembers tough enough to withstand anything the vintage Hemi could dish out. To lay down the power a Ford 9-inch rearend fitted with a nodular centersection was packed with 4.11:1 gears and then supported in place by custom-fabbed ladder bars. Carrera coilover shocks were charged with smoothing out the solid ride.

To set the stance up front a Don Long–style tube axle was complemented by early Ford spindles while parallel leaf springs re-arched by Hagerstown Spring Works of Hagerstown, Maryland, combined with Pete & Jakes tube shocks help soak up the bumps. A 1-5/8-inch four-point rollcage by John Hutchinson adds safety to the mix. It’s easy to go fast but when it comes time to stop well, brake fluid pushed through a Corvette master via stainless lines to 11-inch Ford rear drums and GM vented discs and single-piston calipers up front get the job done.

Completing the look, a pair of 15-inch Team III altered wheels out back capped with Radir piecrust slicks and 15x4-inch aluminum kidney bean Real Rodders Wheels with P145R15 radials up front.

The completed chassis and driveline along with the body was then shipped off to The Hot Rod Garage in Denton, Maryland, where Ray Bartlett and his team began the task of bringing the twisted old steel back to life. The team tackled any minor rust repair while also replacing the transmission tunnel, toe kicks, and a dramatic 5-inch firewall setback and had the car ready to roll onto Grant Bryant at Granted Antique Auto in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, for the final run through. While there it received its flared rear fiberglass fenders, installation of steel reproduction parts crafted by Ferguson Coachbuilding, including the trunklid, rockers, tail pan, and centersection, final panel gapping, bodywork, and finessing to prepare it for the spray booth. Bryant filled his spray gun with a tweaked version of PPG’s Orange Glow Candy and laid down a vibe of decadence, bringing the Willys to life.

To create an office that was all business, a pair of LimeWorks race bucket seats with diamond-pleated black vinyl and Deist four-point harnesses look right at home accented by a three-spoke steering wheel, a Hurst Competition shifter, and a bevy of EELCO and Stewart-Warner dials. Tom wanted to thank everyone involved especially good friend Eddie Hatter for all of his dedication throughout the build. This is one Willys that will shake the streets for decades to come.

Tech Tips


How do I break in a flat tappet cam?

With flat tappet cams, make sure to lube the cam and lifters with a break-in lube like the COMP cam and Lifter Installation Lube before you install them in the engine. Also use a good break-in oil, such as the COMP Cams’ Engine Break-in Oil, during initial start up to help ensure a proper break-in process.


Keep it dry

The FAST XFI 2.0 is not watertight. Be mindful to install it where no water, lubricants, or other liquids will come into contact with it.


Be precise

Precision is important when mounting a distributor on an Inglese EFI System for a Ford application. Timing may be affected otherwise due to the proximity of the distributor to the fuelrails.